CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Projects Inspired By Places
Randy Miller and Celticladda
In my last column, I wrote about the multinational nature of Americana music. Because my mind sometimes leaps to weird places, it made me spend these last two weeks thinking about place. Specifically, how place affects music. In some ways it seems odd that which hunk of rock you live on would so seriously affect the sound of your music. But it’s not so much the hunk of rock as the other people who share your hunk of rock. So this week, I went looking for campaigns that weren’t necessarily international but heavily informed by a region, nation, or culture.
Randy Miller and Celticladda – The Joy of My Life (click here to view campaign)
I grew up in a place so small that the only way to know you were there was that its name was on the local Methodist church. So I find it strange that I discovered traditional contra dancing in a place full of rocket scientists: Huntsville, Alabama. When the local group ran an ad on NPR, it caught my attention, my only existing knowledge of contra being a side-scroll video game from the ’90s and a scandal involving Oliver North. As I began to look into the history of contra dance (electronically — I’m enough of a dance floor menace that my partners will attest that “shindig” is actually two words), I became interested in its original aim of keeping Irish and British immigrants connected to their homes via “country dancing.” So when I saw the Kickstarter campaign by Randy Miller and Celticladda to preserve those early contra dance tunes and pub songs, I knew I wanted to feature it. The backer perks for The Joy of My Life are pretty to-the-point, consisting only of the album in CD format and copies of two of Miller’s books of contra dance fiddle tunes.
Coco O’Connor – Muscle Shoals LP (click here to view project)
There aren’t many places that can claim to be instantly recognizable by its sound. Memphis. Detroit. Muscle Shoals. For New Mexico-based artist Coco O’Connor, that Muscle Shoals sound is not only a musical sense of place, but coming home. Before moving to New Mexico, O’Connor grew up in Cullman, Alabama, not far from Muscle Shoals. Her new album inspired by that region’s sound is written by area songwriter Stephanie C. Brown and features guest appearances from instrumentalists Will McFarlane and Mark Naramore, each with their own connections to the Shoals. Backer perks for this $5,000 campaign include the album in digital, CD, and vinyl formats; a bonus electronic album of demos and work tapes; chord charts; and a private concert in Muscle Shoals.
Slavalachia – Debut Album (click here to view project)
Some artists find musical inspiration from a sense of place. Others pull their inspiration from a flat rejection of place, instead seeking inspiration by connecting the dots between distant cultures. Slavalachia falls into the latter category. A collaboration of artists from Ohio, Belarus, and Ukraine, Slavalachia aims to tie the seemingly unrelated folk traditions of Appalachia and Eastern Europe together, kind of the “wherever you go, there you are” approach to place. For their debut album, the band is running a $4,500 Indiegogo campaign to record in Ukraine. Backer perks for this campaign include the album in digital and CD format, vocal training from Ukrainian band member and professional vocal coach Marichka Chichkova, and a personal online concert.